Empowering Communities: How Electric Cooperatives Transformed Rural South Carolina

The Horry County Museum presents a lecture by Lacy Ford on August 20th at 1 PM on the impact of electric cooperatives on rural South Carolina.
In the early 1900s, for profit companies like Duke Power and South Carolina Electric and Gas provided electricity to heavily populated cities and towns throughout South Carolina. It wasn’t until the creation of publicly owned electric cooperatives in the 1930s that rural South Carolinians were gradually introduced to electricity in their homes. Today, electric cooperatives serve more than a quarter of South Carolina’s citizens and more than seventy percent of the state’s land area, bringing not only power but also high-speed broadband to rural communities.
The rise of “public” power—electricity serviced by member-owned cooperatives and sanctioned by federal and state legislation—is a complicated saga encompassing politics, law, finance, and rural economic development. Empowering Communities examines how the cooperatives helped bring fundamental and transformational change to the lives of rural people in South Carolina, from light to broadband.
Twice a National Endowment for the Humanities Research Fellow and once an ACLS Fellow, Lacy Ford’s most recent book is Empowering Communities: How Electric Cooperatives Transformed Rural South Carolina. Ford is also the author of Deliver Us From Evil: The Slavery Question in the Old South. Deliver Us From Evil also won the 2010 Mary Lawton Hodges prize for best book on the South published in 2009. Ford authored Origins of Southern Radicalism: The South Carolina Upcountry, 1800-1860, which won the Francis B. Simkins Prize, 1988-1989, and was reviewed in The New York Review of Books by James M. McPherson.
Ford is currently Scholar-in-Residence in the Institute for Southern Studies at the University of South Carolina. He is also Emeritus Professor of History at the University of South Carolina and Dean Emeritus of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of South Carolina, which he served as Dean from July 2016 through December 2020. Previously he served as Senior Vice Provost and Dean of Graduate Studies, 2010-2016 at the U of SC. His scholarly interests are the political and economic history of the American South. He is currently working on a book tentatively titled Understandings of the American South: Slavery, Race, Identity, The American Century, and the Meaning of The Civil War.
The program will begin at 1:00 pm in the McCown Auditorium located at 805 Main Street, Conway SC. This event is free and open to the public. For more information, call 843-915-5320 or email hcgmuseum@horrycounty.org. To view a full list of programs, visit our website at www.horrycountymuseum.org.